Customer Reviews: The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance
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on May 21, 2010
Think Rule #5.

Alan Webber, co-founder of Business Week, wrote that change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of status quo is greater than the risk of change. C(SQ) > R(C).

Tony Schwartz has written a provocative book that takes a serious look at the one area in business that seems immune to change -- the human costs of doing business in the digital age, Schwartz, the co-author of The Power of Full Engagement provides a proven prescription for making positive changes in the way we work.

The Way We're Working Isn't Working makes a compelling case that we're neglecting four core needs that energize performance. The book is an extension of the ideas Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy introduced in the Harvard Business Review in 2007. (Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.)

Their premise is deceptively simple: "The furious activity to accomplish more with less exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term."

In other words, less energy. And perhaps more importantly, less sustainable energy.

The insights that Schwartz and his colleagues at The Energy Project bring to The Way We're Working Isn't Working are based on their experiences working with such organizations as Wachovia, The Cleveland Clinic, the LA Police Department, Sony and Ernst & Young and IBM.

Like Dan Pink's book, Drive, this book challenges the notion of what truly works in today's business environment. While Pink focuses on motivation, Schwartz challenges the idea of how to enhance the performance of employees -- and much of it is counter-intuitive to how we do business.

"A growing body of research suggests that we're most productive when we move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. Instead, we live in a gray zone, constantly juggling activities but rarely fully engaging in any of them -- or fully disengaging from any of them."

Within the first 10 pages, Schwartz makes a persuasive case. "Most organizations enable our dysfunctional behaviors and even encourage them through policies, practices, reward systems and cultural messages that serve to drain our energy and run down our value over time.

An increasing number of organizations pay lip service to the notion that `are our greatest asset.' But even among companies that make that claim, the cast majority off-load the care and feeding of employees to divisions known as "human resources," which are rarely accorded an equal place at the executive table. As a consequence, the needs of employees are marginalized and treated perquisites provided through programs that focus on topics like `leadership development,' `wellness,' and `flexibility' -- all largely code words for nonessential functions."

Again, think rule #5.

How willing are executives today willing to change the status quo? Products are being made. Services are being rendered. But at what cost?

The four core areas that energize great performance are sustainability (physical needs) security (emotional) self-expression (mental) and significance (spiritual). Schwartz makes the case that we're at our best, not when act like computers running at high speed for long hours, but when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy across each of our four needs.

The value of the book is enhanced by downloadable tools to help you evaluate your current situation and how to begin addressing the four core areas to enhance the ability of your company to harness the energy of all your employees.

If you want to make positive change in your organization and want to move beyond the status quo, The Way We're Working Isn't Working -- is a working blueprint for any company's future. I highly recommend it.
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on February 5, 2014
I really wish I would have read the reviews and book description more closely before buying. Instead, I purchased the paperback version and wasted $12. What a waste of time this book is – I have no idea how it was/is a New York Times Bestseller (according to cover of the book). It’s the same advice your mother has been giving you for years: get better sleep, eat right, exercise, and take care of yourself emotionally. Duh! No kidding, really?! Tell me something I don’t know for my $12, please!

Even the description of the book is quite telling. Here are a few sentences from the book review/description posted by Amazon: “Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, stretches an obvious thesis to the breaking point in his plaint…” and “All well and good, but the bulk of the book is then eaten up exhorting readers to get more sleep, exercise, eat better, and take care of their emotional health. While a reminder to cultivate engagement and mindfulness is always relevant to the modern business reader, the usable content is slim—and fluffed out beyond the point of readability.

Not to mention the customer reviews. They look like paid or quid-pro-quo reviews to me. Something out of the Timothy Ferris model for getting good reviews on Amazon. Very few of them seem like genuine reviews. That sucks! (and the book does too!)
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on May 13, 2010
There are countless books written on how to improve your performance at work, be healthier, and live a better life. 'The Way We're Working Isn't Working' should be at the top of the reading list. Tony presents a compelling case on how our current approach to life (going flat out) is harming us, our families, and our organizations. He also shares a multitude of simple, pragmatic and powerful tips on how to build your capacity to better deal with the many demands we face every day. I have seen his ideas radically transform many friends and co workers who are more energized, engaged, and enjoying life than ever before.
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on May 31, 2010
I am often asked to review and blog about new business books coming to market, and only rarely do I oblige. When Tony asked me to review his new book, I said yes immediately. His ideas around managing energy as opposed to time resonated with me years ago after reading, The Power of Full Engagement and play a big role in my own consulting practice. The energy management concept, if explored to its full potential, can do more to transform an organization than any other single component.

The great thing about Tony's new book is that it is full of sound research that reinforces what Tony is teaching and helps us to really understand why we do the things we do, even when they are counter productive to our goals. More importantly, he provides practical advise on how to begin the process of change that will work for anyone in any stage of their career, or any organization at any level of health. Not only will you find great information to help you become a better employee, leader, or manager, but you will also find that this book will help you become the person, spouse, parent, child, and sibling that your heart desires.

If any of the following statements resonate with you, buy it NOW

* I always feel like I am behind in my work and will never catch up
* I want my team to be more productive
* I desperately want to find balance between my work life and home life
* I want my team to be more accountable and responsible
* I struggle with the daily distractions of email, phone calls, and endless request for my time and can't get any of my own work done
* My company does a poor job of retaining employees
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on February 28, 2013
If you are interested in the topic and have read many books ... perhaps this book doesn't include so many earth shattering new topics. However, there shouldn't be that many new things. It is the execution and this is where this book gave me some value. The author has a good way of explaining, giving examples and stays away from cliches.
I recommend this book, but don't expect completely new theories.
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on July 9, 2010
American managers are in denial about the fact that their teams are comprised of human beings.

Content with a data-defying strategy of squeezing as much work as possible out of their teams for as little compensation as possible, these self-congratulating fools close their eyes to the facts and resort to childish name-calling (e.g. "soft") to anyone who dares suggest that human physiology and psychology are important factors in workplace productivity.

What if there were facts, though, about how people work that could multiply your productivity with only incremental additional costs?

I'm excited to come across a kindred spirit in Tony Schwartz in his new book, "The Way We're Working Isn't Working."

I've long advocated that people are an amazing, if complex, asset into which we should invest not a faceless, annoying expense that we should minimize.

Schwartz provides invaluable insights into how the human beings function and provides the practical means to transform these insights into a more energetic, renewing, and yes, productive workplace.

Specifically he looks at human physiology, emotions, our minds, and our spirituality. Far from hyping the latest feel-good fad, Schwartz methodically supports his case with data. If you look at the facts, certain things are true about what makes people thrive, commit, care, and work hard. On the downside, certain factors cause people to wear down, avoid risk, blame others and otherwise distance themselves from their work.

Far from being "soft," it is those leaders who have the courage, honesty and wisdom to face what I describe as "the hard facts about working with people" who have the mettle it takes to face the complex issues facing business going forward.

Gone are the days where people can be reduced to inter-changeable commodities to be discarded at the first sign of trouble.

Tony Schwartz is a must-read resource for any leader hoping to work effectively with people going forward.

- Karl D. Edwards
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on April 11, 2013
Are you working over 10 hours a day non-stop in an effort to be more productive? Then you are fooling yourself. We are not machines and as humans we pulse. We take energy in we expend energy, we work we rest, we are awake, we sleep. Tony Swartz argues that it is energy more than time that we need to bring to our work to be more efficient. Some timely reminders of what is obvious and yet seemingly forgotten by millions of people everyday.”
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on May 17, 2011
This is the exact same book as "The Way We're Working Isn't Working", just with a different title. I'll be returning it soon.
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on July 4, 2010
Fantastic book. Expands from his book - Full Engagement. Basic premise of book is: 1) world is increasingly distracted, 2) time/attention are valuable commodities.

Therefore, key to increasing productivity in all areas of lives are:
1. Attention/work sprints - full, undivided attention, engagement in areas of maintainence, growth, improvement. ie Your life's work/passion, purpose. Recommends 90 minutes, 3-4x/day.
2. Rest, recovery. Following 90 minutes of pure, focused, uninterrupted work, rest/rejuvenation. Examples include: taking a lunch break, walk, meditation, watching a movie, reading a favorite book/magazine, hanging out w/ friends, family.
3. Diet consisting of water, vitamins, minerals, grains, fruits, vegetables, leans meats, w/ rigorous exercise. Best to maintain shape/fitness.
4. Gave a seminar for Eben Pagan discussing pro/peak tennis players, after a point, have certain rituals b/f after a point to rejuvenate/prepare for the next point. They 1) turn away from the net, 2) look at their rackets/play w/ their strings. This serves to disengage the player, get their heart rate back as close to normal as possible, & refocus for the next point/serve.

Follow this formula & your productivity either at work, home, business, is bound to improve. Including your happiness, emotional, spiritual well being.
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on January 29, 2014
I think this book is an excellent synthesis of information gleaned from controlled studies and the author's professional experience coaching individuals and organizations. The main title is actually somewhat misleading. As the subtitle implies, it is really a book about how to be at your best, so that you can be maximally productive at whatever you're doing--with the side-benefit of being a happier, more well-balanced person. The principles can be applied to anybody, whether a white collar professional, an athlete, a student, a stay-at-home mom, etc. This book has helped me immensely, by causing me to examine my work-a-holic tendencies and recognize that they are actually making me less productive and diminishing my overall quality of life. The strategies in this book make sense and are very effective for me.
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